15-18 April 2009
Southbank Centre, London
DIANE FREEMAN Project Producer
LARRY SIDER Project Director
MARK UNDERWOOD Technical Supervisor
‘Counting and Guessing’ – Radio producer Piers Plowright considers the invisible and the unspoken: how listening may lead to seeing and how looking may lead to hearing.
Strickland describes how the soundtrack for his debut feature, Katalin Varga, developed from the work of his group, The Sonic Catering Band. His sound team won ‘Outstanding Artistic Achievement for Sound’ at the Berlin Film Festival.
‘Dissecting Sound Design and the Creative Process: An exploration of sound design from the departure point to the destination and, most importantly, the journey. The myths and the realities. Reflections on the creative process and the mechanisms employed to get there.’
Munro has been responsible for the sound post on many of Canada’s finest feature films of the past three decades including I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing, Highway 61, Exotica, The Sweet Hereafter, Last Night and Ararat.
Solomon discusses the aesthetics and techniques of sound design in poetic cinema, featuring close analysis of his own films, Remains to be Seen, Last Days in a Lonely Place and Rehearsals for Retirement, and a discussion of the metaphorical use of sound. Via videolink from Boulder, Colorado.
‘The use and manipulation of atmospheres to project place, emotion and character.’ Pat Jackson has worked as Supervising Sound Editor and Sound Effects Editor on some of the most critically acclaimed and financially successful films of the past three decades including Jarhead, The Talented Mr. Ripley, A Bug’s Life, The English Patient, Forrest Gump, Blue Velvet, The Right Stuff and Apocalypse Now. She teaches sound and editing at San Francisco State University.
‘A (Very) Short History of Music for Filmmakers – tracing the relationship between music and the audience.’
‘Cross-Platform Songwriting, Composition, Performance and Production’ from Sawhney, recognised as a world class producer, songwriter, DJ, multi-instrumentalist, orchestral composer, across music, film, videogames, dance and theatre.
Composer, radio artist and sound ecologist, Westerkamp will focus on her own compositional work and its inherent connection to the visual. “I’ll trace the process of listening from the first step of recording to the presentation of the finished piece and how the sounds themselves, in the context of this type of listening, guide a piece into what it becomes – its structure and its ‘message’. My intention is to build connections between the professional ear (of the sound designer, composer or director), the media ear (of the audience) and the ‘daily life’ ear (of all of us).”
‘Sound and Memory’: We all have a reservoir of aural memory, some of which is likely to be shared by our fellow human beings but a part of that memory bank is unique to our experience. This will be a personal exploration of the complexities of emotional responses to sound and how filmmakers have to differentiate the personal and the universal in attempting to use sound and music to connect with the audience.
‘From the microphone to the loudspeaker – a matter of aesthetics.’ Daniel is a sound recordist and sound director who has created soundscapes in film, radio, theatre and dance.
THE NEUROLOGY OF THE SOUNDTRACK
TIM GRIFFITHS, Professor of Cognitive Neurology, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, and LAUREN STEWART, director of the MSc in Music, Mind and Brain at Goldsmiths, explore ‘The Neurology of the Soundtrack: How do audiences hear and interpret the soundtrack in audio-visual productions?’ In discussion with PETER HOWELL of the former BBC Radiophonic Workshop.
The unique Japanese sound artist whose performances and installations explore the process of listening. His presentation will combine a performance of instruments – some traditional and some self-designed – with a discussion of his inimitable theories on sound and listening. In conversation with the musician, writer and curator, DAVID TOOP, author of Haunted Weather. Of Suzuki he says, “I think of Akio Suzuki as a kind of magician.”
MEET THE SPEAKERS
An opportunity to ask further questions in an informal gathering in the Purcell Room Foyer.
Three sessions focusing on the overlaps between fiction and documentary.
“I like to say that there are two kinds of cinema, there is Flaherty and there is Eisenstien. That is to say, there is a documentary realism and there is theater, but ultimately, at the highest level, they are one in the same. What I mean is that through documentary realism one arrives at the stucture of theater, and through theatrical imagination and fiction one arrives at the reality of life. To confirm this, take at look at the great directors, how they pass by turn from realism to theater and back again” – Jean-Luc Godard
KIM LONGINOTTO, GIDEON KOPPEL and MICHAEL GRIGSBY
A discussion between three of Britain’s most eminent documentary filmmakers exploring the intricacies of creating soundtracks for their distinctive styles of filmmaking.
Mike Figgis is the renowned filmmaker, musician, photographer and installation artist whose career began with the People Show in the 1970s. His film credits include Stormy Monday, Internal Affairs, Leaving Las Vegas, Miss Julie, Timecode and Hotel, and several of those include his own scores. Recently he has actively promoted the creative potential of low budget digital filmmaking.
Considering the particular use and effect of songs and music with images, particularly in his documentaries, ‘Negative Space and Suburbs in the Sky’.
CLOSING REMARKS – LARRY SIDER and DIANE FREEMAN
B.A. (Hons) Sociology, University of Exeter, 1961. Joined BBC as trainee film editor in 1962.
After training, Roger enjoyed a distinguished career in the cutting rooms. Amongst his credits were three films for Ken Russell, including Song of Summer, the award-winning film on Frederick Delius; three films in Kenneth Clark’s Civilisation series; dramatic films on George Eliot and John Milton directed by Don Taylor; biographies of Wagner and Schumann by Anthony Wilkinson; documentaries on Lenin and Paul Klee by Colin Nears; a serialisation of The Last of the Mohicans; a remembrance of Virginia Woolf and Love of a Kind by Lord Snowdon. Towards the end of his career at the BBC he was given an award for “Sustained Excellence as a Film Editor”.
Recruited to the National Film School as Head of Editing when it opened in 1971. Continued to edit whenever possible, including award winning films on Indian Erotic Art and the ballet dancer Lynn Seymour. Subsequently appointed Assistant then Deputy Director. Was Director, Full-Time Programme from 2001 to 2005, when he was invited by the Director to initiate a one-year course in Fiction Direction, which ran successfully until 2007. In 2008 he was retained as curricular consultant to the NFTS. During his time at the NFTS he has taught in places as varied as Copenhagen, Moscow, Manila, Mexico and Cuba. In Britain he has lectured at The Royal College of Art, The Northern Film School and The Granada Centre for Visual Anthropology at Manchester University. He has also acted as a consultant to the Japanese government regarding professional media education.
He is author of two books on the craft of editing and his book on Truffaut’s La Nuit americaine (Day for Night) was published in the British Film Institute’s Film Classic series. His latest book is Fine Cuts: The Art of European Film Editing. He is currently writing an Alternative History of Cinema and researching a book on the French New Wave. He has served on the Arts Council Film Committee, The Scottish Film Production Fund and The Scottish Film Training Trust. He also served on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Media Practice. Roger is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
DANIEL DESHAYS As a sound recordist and sound director, responsible for the sound conception of numerous stage productions for theatre and dance, Daniel Deshays has been constructing his own way of “writing sound” since 1977. He has worked in film, notably for Chantal Akerman, Philippe Garrel and Robert Kramer. He has recorded and produced more than two hundred and fifty records, created numerous museographic sound spaces, and participated in great national events such as the 1789 Bicentennial. He has also composed sound pieces for CD and the radio.
He is the head teacher of Sound at the ENSATT (École nationale des arts et techniques du théâtre, Lyon) and created the Sound Department at the ENSBA (École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts) in 1994. He also teaches occasionally at various art schools such as the Université Lyon II, the ISTS (Institut supérieur des techniques de spectacle), and ENSAD (Arts décoratifs) and at the INA (Institut national de l’audiovisuel).
Main publications: De l’écriture sonore (Entre-Vues, 1999); Pour une écriture du son (Klincksieck, 2006).
has had his concert music performed by many artists, including Tasmin Little, David Campbell, The Gaudier Ensemble, Andrew Ball, The London Mozart Players and many others. He has composed over forty scores for film, theatre, radio & television. His many collaborations with the playwright Peter Barnes include the Olivier Award winning play, Red Noses (1985) and the feature film, Hard Times (1994).
Deutschis Professor of Post-Production at Bournemouth University. He is also course leader of the MA in Soundtrack Production, a course which integrates all post-production sound into a coherent study and prepares composers and sound designers for careers in the moving image industries of the 21st century (and is the only course of its kind in Europe).
He is the chair of editors of The Soundtrack journal.
MIKE FIGGIS had an early interest in music and he played keyboards for Bryan Ferry’s first band. After working in theatre (he was a musician and performer in the experimental group The People Show) he made his feature film debut with the low budget Stormy Monday in 1988. The film earned him attention as a director who could get interesting performances from established Hollywood actors. He initially made a splash in America in the 1990s with the gritty thriller Internal Affairs that helped to revive the career of Richard Gere. His next Hollywood feature Mr. Jones was misunderstood by the studio who attempted to market the downbeat story as a feelgood movie resulting in a box office flop. Figgis poured his disenchantment with the film industry into Leaving Las Vegas, creating star turns for Nicolas Cage and Elisabeth Shue which earned Figgis Academy Award nominations for Best Directing and Best Screenplay. His most ambitious film to date is the low budget film The Loss of Sexual Innocence, a loosely based autiobiographical movie of the director himself.
Forays into digital video technology led him to conceive of and direct Timecode, which took advantage of the technology to create an ensemble film shot simultaneously with four cameras all in one take and also presented simultaneously and uncut, dividing the screen into four quarters. Since then, his work output has almost exclusively been on the cutting edge of creative digital filmmaking. He returned to the Timecode quad-screen approach for his section of Ten Minutes Older, but has also worked on documentary pieces including a segment of The Blues (called Red, White, and Blues) and a short piece on the flamenco. His curiosity with the cinematic use of time has led him to cite Robert Enrico’s film version of An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge as an influential film for him. Figgis has a well-documented love-hate relationship with the Hollywood system which leads him to often be an outspoken critic of the system while also despairing the lack of a better alternative, in his mind, at the moment. At an appearance at Camerimage in 2005, he expressed the view that filmmaking had become “boring and perhaps need[ed] to become even worse before anything better can emerge” successfully at least in reaction.
He was the founding patron of the independent filmmakers online community Shooting People. At one of their events in 2005 he said that filmmaking with a small digital camera made the experience more like painting or novel writing than the movie industry. His fascination with camera technology has also led him to create a camera stabiliszation rig for smaller video cameras, called the Fig Rig which places the camera on a platform held within a steering wheel-like system and has since been released by Manfrotto Group. (Wikipedia) www.red-mullet.com
TIMOTHY GRIFFITHS is Wellcome Senior Clinical Fellow and Professor of Cognitive Neurology at Newcastle University. He runs the Newcastle Cognitive Neurology Clinic. His research concerns human complex sound processing; the detection of auditory patterns relevant to speech, music and environmental-sound analysis. The work involves studies of deficits in complex sound processing in patients with brain lesions and the study of complex sound processing in normal subjects using functional imaging. The functional imaging is carried out at the Wellcome Centre for Imaging neuroscience in London, where he is a principal. These studies allow inference about normal complex sound processing mechanisms. Other work explores complex-sound processing as a ‘window’ into brain disorders including dementia and autism. Further details: www.staff.ncl.ac.uk/t.d.griffiths/tdg.html
MICHAEL GRIGSBY started his career as a cameraman at Granada in the late 1950s. While there, he bought his own movie camera and formed the independent film-making group, Unit Five Seven. Encouraged by Karel Reisz and Lindsay Anderson and part-funded by the British Film Institute Experimental Film Fund he made two films with the group: Engineman (1959) and Tomorrow’s Saturday (1962), the former being shown in the last of Free Cinema’s occasional programmes at London’s National Film Theatre.
His work since has shown remarkable fidelity to the concerns and principles embedded in these early films. Grigsby set out to make films about ordinary people and those at society’s margins. He quickly gained a solid reputation as a filmmaker who – to use his own words – “gives a voice to the voiceless”. Thus, whether he is filming trawlermen (Dickie Lerner, 1965; A Life Apart, 1973), the survivors on both sides of the Vietnam War (I Was A Soldier, 1970; The Search, 1991, Thoi Noi, 1993), ordinary inhabitants of Northern Ireland (Too Long a Sacrifice, 1984; The Silent War, 1990; Rehearsals, 2005), families facing up to social disintegration in Thatcher’s Britain (Living on the Edge, 1987) or the traumatised Lockerbie community 10 years after the Boeing 747 disaster (Lockerbie, A Night Remembered, 1998), Grigsby does his utmost to let people speak for themselves. Hence, his belief in the importance of long research periods (up to six months) prior to shooting to gain the participants’ trust; hence also the still frames, the long meditative shots and the moments of silence, allowing people the space in which to get their points across. The unhurried pacing appears truly daring when compared to frenetic film vocabulary more favoured today.
Grigsby’s documentaries have also been compared to free-form jazz; he likes working instinctively, and the structure of his films generally comes to him only after he has built a real understanding of the place, the landscape and the people. His films’ inner quality also comes from the highly creative way in which he arranges sounds (often a combination of natural sounds, snatches of dialogues, archive material and live or added music) and images, thus creating symbolic contrasts between them, rather than resorting to a didactic voice-over commentary. In short, Grigsby uses eminently cinematic techniques more frequently associated with art cinema than documentary television. Although he addresses political issues (Northern Ireland, labour relations, effects of wars), there is no crude attempt in his films to ‘propagandise’. Instead, he utilises the documentary genre in a unique fashion, bringing his humanist vision to bear on problems in society, so that viewers become participants, too – involved, engaged and thinking. (From Julian Petley in Reference Guide to British and Irish Film Directors, and Wikipedia)
From the outset, Peter Howell was involved in writing applied music, composing and producing scores for amateur theatrical performances in Sussex, UK. His professional career was to begin at Glyndebourne Festival Opera, where he was a member of the lighting and sound team. His interest in sound lead him to be employed by the BBC as a Studio Manager and subsequently as a composer at the Radiophonic Workshop, a department specialising in experimental sound and music. In due course, thanks to development in technology, he was able to broaden his output to include complete scores for BBC Television series in documentary and drama, such as Michael Palin’s Full Circle series, Jonathan Miller’s The Body in Question, and Dr Who, all of which are still being shown around the world. Throughout his long association with BBC TV, he was able to develop an understanding of how all the disciplines involved in filmmaking are inter-related. This broad approach forms the basis of his work in music and sound at the National Film and Television School, where the benefits of collaboration across the disciplines are so highly regarded. At the film school, as well as running a series of ‘Sound Awareness’ lectures every year, he is responsible for teaching all aspects of music in film, including reading the film for the purposes of composition, scoring for sequenced or live music, the use of software in the realisation of film music, and the personal strategies necessary for the successful meeting of tight deadlines in demanding projects. As a tutor with Music for the Media, an online media composing course, he has appraised over a thousand assignments and assisted hundreds of composers break into film and TV composition. He was for a long time on the media committee of The British Academy of Songwriters and Composers.
Peter will be appearing live with other members of the Radiophonic Workshop at London’sRoundhouse (www.roundhouse.org.uk/whats-on), London, 17 May.
PAT JACKSON has worked on major Hollywood productions as Supervising Sound Editor including Jarhead, The Talented Mr. Ripley, A Bug’s Life and Hercules (for both of which she won a Golden Reel Best Sound Editing Award); The English Patient (nominated for the BAFTA Best Sound Award), and Sound Effects Editor on productions including Toy Story, Forrest Gump, Blue Velvet and The Right Stuff. Pat was part of the team which won the Academy Award for Best Sound on The Right Stuff, Apocalypse Now and The English Patient headed by Oscar-winning editor and sound editor, Walter Murch, and has experience both as an editor and sound editor herself. Since 2003, Pat has been Associate Professor in the Department of Cinema at San Francisco State University where she teaches post-production sound, film editing and digital sound for film. She has a BA in Film and Broadcasting from Stanford University.
Having originally studied mathematics, Gideon Koppel was a postgraduate student at the Slade School of Fine Art. His prolific work as a filmmaker is exhibited in a wide variety of formats: from Jones, a Welsh language drama based on the correspondence between Ernest Jones and Freud … to the film installation for fashion label Comme des Garcons seen at the Florence Biennale … and the controversial, never broadcast BBC Wales film Ooh la la and the art of dressing up which explores the psychopathology of celebrity. Gideon is an award-winning director of film commercials; a faculty member at the University of London and teaches with Theodore Zeldin at l’École des Hautes Études Commerciales (HEC), Paris.
His most recent film is the feature length sleep furiously, which premiered this year at the Edinburgh Film Festival and has subsequently been selected for various international film festivals including Locarno, Dublin, Ghent and Camerimage. sleep furiously is set in a small farming community in mid-Wales. Much influenced by his conversations with the writer Peter Handke, Koppel leads us on a poetic and profound journey into a world of endings and beginnings; a world of stuffed owls, sheep and fire. Allied to a soundtrack by the revered electronic musician, Aphex Twin, sleep furiously has been described in festival programmes as lyrical filmmaking at its best. sleep furiously is distributed in the UK by New Wave Films and will be released in 2009.
KIM LONGINOTTO studied at the UK’s National Film School where she made Pride of Place, a critical look at the boarding school, and Theatre Girls, documenting a hostel for homeless women. After the NFS, she worked as the cameraperson on a variety of documentaries for TV including Underage, a chronicle of unemployed adolescents in Coventry.
In 1986, Longinotto formed the production company, Twentieth Century Vixen, with Claire Hunt. Together they made Fireraiser, a look at Sir Arthur ‘Bomber’ Harris and the bombing of Dresden during WWII; Eat the Kimono, about the controversial Japanese feminist performer, Hanayagi Genshu; Hidden Faces, the internationally acclaimed, collaborative documentary about Egyptian women; and The Good Wife of Tokyo, about women, love and marriage in Japanese society. Throughout this time, she made a series of ten broadcast and non-broadcast videos on special needs issues including Tragic But Brave for Channel Four. With Jano Williams, Longinotto directed the audience pleaser, Dream Girls, a BBC-produced documentary of the spectacular Japanese musical theatre company, and Shinjuku Boys, about three Tokyo women who live as men. Next, she made Rock Wives for Channel Four about the wives and girlfriends of rock stars, followed by Divorce Iranian Style, with Ziba Mir-Hosseini, about women and divorce in Iran. Her next film, Gaea Girls, made with Jano Williams, is about women wrestlers in Japan. Runaway, also made with Ziba Mir-Hosseini, is set in a refuge for girls in Tehran. Her film, The Day I Will Never Forget, about young girls in Kenya challenging the tradition of female circumcision, premiered domestically at Sundance in 2003. Her next film, Sisters In Law, set in Kumba, Cameroon, premiered and won two prizes at Cannes. Her latest film, Hold Me Tight, Let Me Go, is set in a school for disturbed children in Oxford, UK. She has just finished a new film in Durban, South Africa, called Rough Aunties. (Women Make Movies)
STEVE MUNRO began his motion picture career at the early age of 12 with the 1972 documentary, Pollution. Six years later it was off to Ryerson Polytechnic Institute where he developed a keen interest in editing. Upon completing his studies he continued to work in the cutting room; fate and lack of budgets would find him sound editing many of the projects he picture cut, until one of these projects garnered a sound award. In 1986, he established Trackworks Inc., a boutique style audio post-production facility in Toronto aimed at supporting the independent Canadian film community. Steve Munro has been responsible for the Sound Design on many of Canada’s finest feature films of the past three decades including I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing, Highway 61, Roadkill, Dance Me Outside, Exotica, The Sweet Hereafter, Last Night and Ararat. He has also sound designed many of Canada’s most important documentaries including The Falls, Shinny, Narmada – The Valley Rises and In the Gutter and Other Good Places. He has worked with a myriad of directors from around the globe and has been recognised at home and abroad for his sound work in television, documentary and theatrical production.
Munro teaches sound design in the Department of Film, Faculty of Fine Arts at Toronto’s York University. He has recently completed sound design work on Bruce MacDonald’s Pontypool and Atom Egoyan’s Adoration.www.trackworksinc.com
PIERS PLOWRIGHT was born in London in 1937 and spent a lot of his childhood listening to the radio and going to the near-by Everyman Cinema, where he saw the classics of European, American and Asian cinema. After a time teaching in Borneo, Iran, and the Sudan, he joined the BBC in 1968, working first for the overseas service and then moving to the Radio Drama Department where he discovered the power of the radio documentary and feature. Since 1977, he has been making radio programmes about real people and events but which often make use of the techniques and structure of drama. He has also been much influenced by film and its use of sound.
Piers has won two Italia Prizes and an RAI prize for his radio documentaries and a Gold Award for documentaries in the 1997 Sony Awards and ditto in 1968 for ‘Services to Radio’. In November 2006, he was the winner of the Audio Luminary Award at the Third Coast Radio Festival in Chicago. He retired from the BBC in 1997 but continues to listen, look and lecture.
CHRIS PETIT is a novelist and film-maker. His films include Radio On, Chinese Boxes and (with Iain Sinclair) The Falconer and Asylum, and London Orbital, a film on the M25. Radio On was re-released in 2004 at Tate Modern. His novels include Robinson, The Hard Shoulder and The Psalm Killer.
Firmly established as a world-class producer, songwriter, DJ, multi-instrumentalist, orchestral composer, and cultural pioneer, Sawhney has become a latter-day Renaissance man in the worlds of music, film, videogames, dance and theatre.
Sawhney has released 7 studio albums and received 15 major national awards for his work. London’s Outcaste Records released the breakthrough Gold selling Beyond Skin in ’99, which took a prestigious Technics Mercury Music Prize nomination and won Sawhney the coveted South Bank Show Award. Subsequently, Sawhney signed a multiple album deal to Richard Branson’s V2 Records, and released the millennial epic and Silver certified Prophesy in 2001, winning a MOBO Award as well as a BBC Radio 3 Music Award. Sawhney’s seventh studio album, Philtre, was released in May 2005, winning another BBC Radio 3 Award and he has recently recorded his eighth album, London Undersound, which features performances from Paul McCartney, Anoushka Shankar, Natty and Imogen Heap amongst others.
To date, Sawhney has scored over forty films, as well as TV ads for top international agencies. His music for Channel Four’s Second Generation saw him nominated for the Ivor Novello Award for Film and TV Composition (2004), and his scores have accompanied everything from dark, high-tension drama to light-hearted animatronics. Recent works include orchestral scores for Mira Nair’s The Namesake, Sony Playstation 3’s Heavenly Sword, and Franz Osten’s silent film classic, A Throw of Dice, which he wrote for the London Symphony Orchestra. He is also currently composing the score for Ninja Theory’s follow up game development to Heavenly sword, tba.
In 2000 Sawhney produced the Varekai album for Cirque du Soleil, taking his unique sound to an even-wider audience. In 2002 he worked with Akram Khan and Anish Kapoor, scoring the music to Khan’s critically acclaimed choreographed work Kaash, and also wrote the music for Khan’s Zero Degrees (nominated for a Laurence Olivier Award, and designed by Antony Gormley). Sawhney also scored Khan’s latest work, Bahok, for the Royal Ballet of China. Recent works in theatre include Simon McBurney’s Olivier award-winning A Disappearing Number for Complicite, the Mahabharata adaptation by Olivier award-winning writer Stephen Clarke and Jonathan Holmes’ Fallujah.
Much of Sawhney’s attention remains focused on the areas of education and community building, accepting the role of Artist in Residence for 5 separate performing arts organisations around the world. Sawhney joined Sir George Martin as a patron for the British Government’s Access-to-Music program and is also patron of the Raindance East Film Festival and the British Independent Film Awards. In 2006 Sawhney was awarded an Honorary Graduate Degree from London’s South Bank University and in late 2007 was awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Music from the University of Kent. www.nitinsawhney.com
PHIL SOLOMON is an internationally recognised filmmaker and has been teaching both film history/aesthetics and film production at the University of Colorado since 1991. Solomon’s work has been screened in every major venue for experimental film throughout the US and Europe, including three Cineprobes at MOMA and two Whitney Biennials. His films have won ten first prize awards at major international film festivals and reside in the permanent collections of numerous institutions including the Museum of Modern Art, Massachusetts College of Art, the Chicago Art Institute and the Oberhausen Film Collection. Solomon collaborated on three films with his colleague and friend, Stan Brakhage, who named Solomon’s Remains to be Seen on his Top Ten Films of All Time for Sight and Sound. He is currently working on a feature length series of short films, The Twilight Psalms, a cine-poem of the 20th century, and a commission from the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. to create a six-channel digital installation entitled, American Falls. In 2007, Solomon embarked on a series of digital videos culled from the video game, Grand Theft Auto, entitled In Memoriam, which was named in the Village Voice‘s Top Ten Experimental Films of the Year. He has also begun work on a book, A Snail’s Trail in the Moonlight: Conversations with Brakhage, transcriptions of several year’s of Brakhage’s film salons.
In a recent review of Phil Solomon’s films in the New York Times, critic Manohla Dargis wrote: “Although part of a long avant-garde tradition, Mr. Solomon makes films that look like no others I’ve seen. The conceit of the filmmaker as auteur has rarely been more appropriate or more defensible … The liberating effect of Mr. Solomon’s work suggests a rather different realm: Film Meets Vision, Rejoice!” www.philsolomon.com
LAUREN STEWART is Senior Lecturer and director of the MSc in Music, Mind and Brain at Goldsmiths, University of London. “My current research falls broadly within the two following areas: Fractionating the Musical Mind: Insights from Congenital Amusia – A small percentage of the population report a lifelong failure to recognize familiar tunes or tell one tune from another, frequently complain that music sounds like a ‘din’ and often avoid the many social situations in which music plays a crucial role. Such individuals, termed ‘congenitally amusic’, have lifelong difficulties with music and perform poorly on a standardized battery of musical listening tasks. This disorder provides us with the opportunity to investigate the cognitive architecture of music, and its relation to other domains, such as language and spatial cognition. Using a large group of congenitally amusic individuals, recruited via an online musical listening test (www.delosis.com/listening/home.html), my present research aims to elucidate precisely which perceptual and cognitive mechanisms are at fault in amusia, whether disordered musical processing has implications for language and the extent to which such difficulties can impact upon sociocultural and affective functioning.This work is carried out in collaboration with Professor Tim Griffiths at Newcastle University and is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). And, Musicians as a Model of Neuroplasticity – Professional pianists must bimanually co-ordinate the production of up to 1800 notes per minute, integrate auditory and sensori-motor information and constantly monitor for errors in performance. The development of these cognitive abilities is the result of intense practise from an early age and provides an ideal model for investigating learning-induced plasticity.My work has focused specifically on the acquisition of musical literacy, asking questions about the cognitive representation of musical notation and the changes that occur in the brain as musical notation goes from being an impenetrable jumble of dots and lines, into a meaningful code for performance. I am currently interested in examining auditory-motor interactions in trained musicians.” www.goldsmiths.ac.uk/psychology/staff/stewart.php
PETER STRICKLAND was born in Reading, UK in 1973 and currently is based in Hungary. Adapted and directed Kafka’s Metamorphosis for Reading’s amateur Progress Theatre in 1992. Since then, he’s made several Super 8 and 16mm short films. His short film, Bubblegum (USA, 1995/6) gained a modicum of notoriety due to its two lead actors, Holly Woodlawn and Nick Zedd. At the same time he founded The Sonic Catering Band with friends, Colin Fletcher and Tim Kirby. The second half of the 90s were spent discovering and honing a very specific sonic and culinary language that inevitably found its way into later film work. The Sonic Catering Band released several recordings on their own Peripheral Conserve label as well as guesting on other labels. In 2002, the Peripheral Conserve label expanded to incorporate works by others, taking in sound poetry (The Bohman Brothers), modern classical (Clare Connors from The Balanescu Quarter), entomology (David Ragge and Jim Reynolds) and a whole slew of music from Central and Eastern Europe on a compilation CD. Most of the fourteen releases on the Peripheral Conserve label were issued as very limited vinyl editions. Katalin Varga was made entirely independently over a four-year period until sound mix and lab funds came from Romania in the fifth and final year. http://peterstrickland.blogspot.com
AKIO SUZUKI is known as a pioneer of sound art, but the breadth of his activities and the form of his works far exceeds the normal boundaries of sound art. It is perhaps more as a ‘quester after sound and space’ that he has received the most attention from artists in many fields. Suzuki’s journey as an artist began in 1963 with a performance at Nagoya station, in which he threw a bucket full of junk down a staircase. The inspiration behind this performance – the idea that if one were to hurl an object down a well-balanced stairway, a pleasant rhythm might be the result – took the desire to ‘listen’ as its subject. That desire to hear, to listen has remained the one constant in Suzuki’s stance as an artist.
During the sixties, Suzuki’s sense of playfulness led him to undertake a series of Self-Study Events, where he explored the processes of ‘throwing’ and ‘following’, taking the natural world as his collaborator. The experiences he gained in these events led him in the seventies to invent an echo instrument he named Analapos. The instrument’s structure resembles that of two mirrors facing each other, reflecting into infinity. As an extension of the principles underlying Analapos, Suzuki constructed the Hinatabokko no kukan (Space in the Sun) in 1988. This space consists of two huge parallel walls, in between which the artist can sit all day and purify his hearing by listening to the reflected sounds of nature. This space leads the artist to discover a new method of listening. Suzuki himself comments, “Sound, which had been conceptually imprisoned in various spaces, is freed to circle the world.”
From the late seventies and through the eighties, Suzuki also developed a form of performance he refers to as Conceptual Soundwork. Applying a number of self-imposed, simple and austere rules, he uses objects close at hand in a mode of ‘intellectual play’. While these events do on the one hand express a critique of meaningless improvised performance, at the same time Suzuki is constantly aware of the audience’s process of listening and he attempts to create contemporaneous connections with the site of performance. It was around this time that Suzuki began to travel frequently to the US and Europe, and his performances at leading music festivals, Festival d’Automne (Paris, 1978) and Documenta 8 (Kassel, 1987) were rapturously received.
As sound art enjoyed a period of prosperity in the nineties, Suzuki was given the chance to create many installations, particularly in Berlin. Worthy of special note were his soundless installations, such as Otodate (Echo point, 1996) in Berlin, Enghien-les-Bains (since 1997, http://www.insitu-enghien.org/) and Strasbourg; Hana (Flower, 1997) at the Stadtgalarie Saarbrucken; and Pyramid (1999) which involved people excavating sounds. These soundless pieces were not designed to critique the old perceptual theories of music, rather they questioned the very location of music. Through their encounter with these works, the past experiences and memories of viewers were reconstructed as new experiences. This process was fundamental to the action of ‘listening’ to the works.
In recent years, the insights he gained from the Turbridge (1999-2000) installation at the Daad Gallery in Berlin have opened up new avenues of development for his future work. By recording and creating sound sources himself, and by using electric amplification with Suzuki’s own self-designed output devices, he was able to reconstruct sounds and experiment with listening to the ‘factors of place’. These experiments were followed up by the sound-drawing Mowe (Seagull, 2002) for the Berlin radio station SFB, and Nagekake & Tadori (Throwing and Following, 2002) which included some suggestions towards the construction of place. Visitors to the latter were able to experience a “place established by the artist as a wholly different space and time axis.
To run simultaneously with these experiments, Suzuki has started the Mogari series since 2002 at the Brunei Gallery at the School of Oriental & African Studies in London. This series centres around unbelievably powerful performances on iwabue – ancient and naturally-sculpted stone flutes which have been handed down in Suzuki’s family. Using these ancient instruments Suzuki sculpts time and place, and through their music he searches for his own end. www.akiosuzuki.com
Books and CDs by Suzuki can be ordered from Sound 323, www.sound323.com.
DAVID TOOP is a musician, composer, writer and sound curator. He has published four books: Rap Attack (now in its third edition), Ocean of Sound, Exotica (selected as a winner of the 21st annual American Books Awards for 2000) and Haunted Weather. His first album, New and Rediscovered Musical Instruments, was released on Brian Eno’s Obscure label in 1975; since 1995 he has released seven solo albums – Screen Ceremonies, Pink Noir, Spirit World, Museum of Fruit, Hot Pants Idol, 37th Floor At Sunset: Music For Mondophrenetic and Black Chamber – and curated five CD compilations for Virgin Records – Ocean of Sound, Crooning On Venus, Sugar & Poison, Booming On Pluto and Guitars On Mars.
In 1998 he composed the soundtrack for Acqua Matrix, the outdoor spectacular that closed every night of Lisbon Expo ’98 from May until September. He has recorded shamanistic ceremonies in Amazonas, appeared on Top of the Pops with the Flying Lizards, worked with musicians including Brian Eno, John Zorn, Prince Far I, Jon Hassell, Derek Bailey, Talvin Singh, Evan Parker, Max Eastley, Scanner, Ivor Cutler and Akio Suzuki, and collaborated with artists from many other disciplines, including theatre director/actor Steven Berkoff, Japanese Butoh dancer Mitsutaka Ishii, sound poet Bob Cobbing, visual artist John Latham, filmmaker Jae-eun Choi and novelist Jeff Noon.
As a critic and columnist he has written for many publications, including The Wire, The Face, The Times, Vogue, Bookforum, Pulse, Urb, The New York Times and The Village Voice. He has curated Sonic Boom, the UK’s largest ever exhibition of sound art, displayed at the Hayward Gallery, London, from April to June 2000. In 2001-2002, he was sound curator for Radical Fashion, an exhibition of work by designers including Issey Miyake, Junya Watanabe, Martin Margiela and Hussein Chalayan, held at the Victoria and Albert Museum and featuring music by Björk, Ryuichi Sakamota, Akira Rabelais, Paul Schütze and others.
Other recent projects include the composition of a soundtrack for Mondophrenentic (CD released by Sub Rosa, August 2000), a CD-ROM installation created in Belgium, and Needle In the Groove, a collaborative album with novelist Jeff Noon, released on Scanner’s Sulphur label in May 2000. In January 2000 he exhibited the sound installation Dreaming of Inscription On Skin with Max Eastley at ICC in Tokyo. He is currently a visiting Research Fellow at the London College of Communication.
HILDEGARD WESTERKAMP was born in Osnabrück, Germany in 1946 and emigrated to Canada in 1968. After completing her music studies in the early seventies, Westerkamp joined the World Soundscape Project under the direction of Canadian composer, R. Murray Schaeffer at Simon Fraser University (SFU) in Vancouver.
Her involvement in this project not only activated in her deep concerns about noise and the general state of the acoustic environment, but it also changed her ways of thinking about music, listening and soundmaking. Her ears were drawn to the acoustic environment as another cultural context or place for intense listening.
The founding of Vancouver Co-operative Radio during the same time provided an invaluable opportunity to record, experiment with and broadcast the soundscape. One could say that her career as a composer, educator and radio artist emerged from these two pivotal experiences and focused it on environmental sound and acoustic ecology. In addition, composers such as John Cage ad Pauline Oliveros have had a significant influence on her work.
She is a founding member and is currently active on the board of the World Forum for Acoustic Ecology (WFAE) as well as the Canadian Association for Sound Ecology (CASE). Between 1991 and 1995, she was the editor of the Soundscape Newsletter and is now on the editorial committee of Soundscape – The Journal of Acoustic Ecology, a new publication of the WFAE.
Her compositions have been performed and broadcast in many parts of the world. The majority of her compositional output deals with aspects of the acoustic environment: with urban, rural or wilderness soundscapes, with the voices of children, men and women, with noise or silence, music and media sounds, or with the sounds of different cultures, and so on. She has composed film soundtracks, sound documents for radio and has produced and hosted radio programs such as Soundwalking, and Musica Nova on Vancouver Co-operative Radio, and has written her own texts for a series of performance pieces for spoken text and tape. In addition to her electroacoustic compositions, she has created pieces for specific “sites”, such as the Harbour Symphony, and École polytechnique. In pieces like The India Sound Journal, she explores the deeper implications of transferring environmental sounds from another culture into the North American and European context of contemporary music, electroacoustic composition and audio art. In her latest compositions, Für Dich/For You and Liebes-Lied/Love Song, based on poetry by Rainer Maria Rilke, she explores the theme of love and connectedness with the sounds and languages of her German/Canadian existence.